7 Ways For Christians To Point Others To Jesus

Have you ever had a really bad job? How about a job that you said, “This job is killing me”? They probably weren’t as bad as the job Ernest Shackleton advertised for:

“Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”

And probably not as bad as the help wanted ad for the Pony Express:

“Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellow not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.”

Several times in his letter to Christians, the Apostle Peter tells Christians that living in a Christ-honoring way on earth is going to be tough. So are Christians just supposed to grin and bear it? Are they just supposed to slap a smile on their face and hang on until the end?

In a word: No! 

Instead, Peter points out seven ways Christians can live so that they will point others to Jesus.

  1. Live in reverent fear of an All-Righteous Judge who doesn’t miss a thing we say or do (1:17)
  2. Live such good lives that consistently glorify God (2:12)
  3. Live as the best of citizens, respecting those in leadership (2:13-17)
  4. Live as good employees (2:18)
  5. Live as Christ’s ambassadors by following the example of Jesus (2:19-24)
  6. Live with your spouse faithfully and submissively (3:1, 7)
  7. Live focused on eternity (4:1-2)

(you can read all the passages from 1 Peter here)

When the first Christians lived this way, everyone spoke well of them and help them in high regard because Christians…

  • Transformed life for women
  • Built the first hospitals
  • Founded the first free medical dispensaries
  • Established orphanages and homes for the aged
  • Made life better for children
  • Brought a dignity to marriage

Anyone who asks the question: ‘What has Christianity done for the world?’ has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and on the life of society.” —William Barclay 

Bottom line—We need to live so that people will say “I those Christians!”

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The Most Christ-like Person In The World

“The most Christ-like person in the world is the man who never finds his fellow-man a nuisance. It is easy to feel Christian in the moment of prayer and meditation; it is easy to feel close to God when the world is shut out. But that is not religion—that is escapism. Real religion is to rise from our knees before God to meet men and the problems of the human situation. Real religion is to draw strength from God in order to give it to others. Real religion involves both meeting God in the secret place and men in the market place. Real religion means taking our own needs to God, not that we may have peace and quiet and undisturbed comfort, but that we may be enabled graciously, effectively and powerfully to meet the needs of others.” —William Barclay

11 Quotes From “How Great Is Our God”

Scholars, tradesmen, politicians, theologians, pastors, and martyrs—all have spoken or written about the greatness of God over the past two millennia. In How Great Is Our God we are treated to a sampling of these writings. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy this first set of quotes.

“Oh, that everyone would strive to put down, in themselves, mastery and honor, so that the Lord of heaven and earth might be exalted!” —George Fox

“Those who are poor in spirit are men and women who have realized that things mean nothing, and that God means everything. …

“Poverty is not a good thing. Jesus would never have called blessed a state where people live in slums and do not have enough to eat, and where health deteriorates because conditions are all against it. It is the aim of the Christian gospel to remove that kind of poverty. The poverty which is blessed is the poverty of spirit, when people realize their own utter lack of resources to meet life, and find their help and strength in God. …

“So, the first beatitude means: O the bliss of those who have realized their own utter helplessness, and who have put their whole trust in God, for thus alone can they render to God that perfect obedience which will make them citizens of the kingdom of heaven!” —William Barclay

“Christ pronounces those to be happy who, chastened and subdued by afflictions, submit themselves wholly to God, and, with inward humility, turn to Him for protection.” —John Calvin

“Christ does not merely affirm that mourners are not unhappy. He shows that their very mourning contributes to a happy life, by preparing them to receive eternal joy, and by furnishing them with motives to seek true comfort in God alone.” —John Calvin

“Teach me to seek Thee, and reveal Thyself to me, when I seek Thee, for I cannot seek Thee, except Thou teach me, nor find Thee, except Thou reveal Thyself.” —Anslem

“I realize that I shouldn’t be surprised at God’s doing things that I can’t explain. I shouldn’t doubt His existence just because I find that I sometimes can’t understand why or how He has made something. I know that my nature is weak and limited and that God’s is limitless, incomprehensible, and infinite. From this, I can infer that He can do innumerable things for reasons that are unknown to me.” —René Descartes

“Truly the love of God and of this world may never be together in one soul, but whichever love is stronger puts out the other.” —Richard Rolle

“Two periods stand out in Christ’s life: His entrance into public ministry at His Baptism, and the culmination of it at His Passion. At both He had a fierce encounter with the devil. This should give you an idea of how the master tempter works. The more public your place, and the more eminent your service for God, the greater the probability that satan is at that very moment hatching some deadly scheme against you. If even the cadet corps need to be armed against satan’s bullets of temptation, how much more the commanders and officers, who stand in the front line of battle!” —William Gurnall

“Men should avoid taking their own vengeance, but avenge injury of God, with the intention to change. … Thus Moses, mildest man of all, killed many thousand of his people, for they worshipped a calf as they should worship God. And thus in our works of mercy lies much discretion….” —John Wycliffe

“God alone remits sin through Jesus Christ, His Son, and alone our Lord.

“Anyone who assigns this to creatures detracts from the honor of God and gives it to him who is not God; this is real idolatry.

“Therefore the confession that is made to a priest or neighbor shall not be declared to be a remittance of sin, but only seeking for advice.

“Works of penance coming from the council of human beings do not cancel sin; they are imposed as a menace to others.

“Christ has borne all our pains and labor. Therefore whoever assigns to works of penance what belongs to Christ errs and slanders God.” —Zwingli

“There is nothing better than to count up the worth of Christ; to take Him up and weigh Him again and again: and after this to have none other to court your love, and to woo your soul’s delight, but Christ.” —Samuel Rutherford 

Lots and lots of additional quotes are coming from this book. Some of them will be posted here, and several will be shared on my Tumblr and Twitter accounts.

Smashing Idols

Puny idolsWhen looking at God’s commandments, we must look at them through a lens of love. If God—the Lawgiver—is love, then all of His laws must be saturated in His love.

So what happens when we look at the Second Commandment through this lens? The wording is simple: “You shall not make for yourself an idol…” (Exodus 20:4-6). If the First Commandment says, “I love you so much that I want to be the One and Only God you have a relationship with” then the Second Commandment says, “Because of this loving relationship, don’t try to make Me smaller to fit your worldview, but let Me by fully Me!

This idolatry starts in our minds, long before we ever create anything with our hands. Idolatry is a mental state that says, “I can define the Creator. I can figure out all of His dimensions. I can predict what He’s going to do. God operates just as I expect Him to.”

But God says, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” (Isaiah 55:8).

The Apostle Paul warned us of exchanging God’s uncontainable glory and majesty for something that we can neatly contain in our box: …they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images … they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator… (Romans 1:21-25).

William Barclay offers this commentary about the flimsiness of idols: “In Greek the word idol has in it the sense of unreality. Plato used it for the illusions of this world as opposed to the unchangeable realities of eternity.” Our puny thoughts about God can create the idols that keep us from the reality of God. 

So how do we avoid this idolatry? Quite simply: we smash every mental idol!

…We refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ… (2 Corinthians 10:5).

So… what idols do you need to smash?

Join me next Sunday as we continue our series The Love In The Law.

Quotes From “No Idols”

No idolsAs requested, here are the quotes I shared in my message this morning…

“In Greek the word idol has in it the sense of unreality. Plato used it for the illusions of this world as opposed to the unchangeable realities of eternity.” —William Barclay

“What we think and believe, we are; not what we say we think and believe, but what we really do think and believe, we are; there is no divorce at all.” —Oswald Chambers 

“Until the love of God that knows no boundary, limit, or breaking point is internalized through personal decision; until the furious longing of God seizes the imagination; until the heart is conjoined to the mind through sheer grace, nothing happens. The idolatry of ideas has left me puffed up, narrow-minded, and intolerant of any idea that does not coincide with mine.” —Brennan Manning

9 Quotes From “Sidelined”

SidelinedSidelined was a book I could hardly put down: such a compelling story of love, and family, and overcoming adversity! You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some quotes I highlighted in this book, unless otherwise noted all of the quotes are from Coach Pagano.

“We can! We will! We must! By any means necessary—we have no choice—we will win.”

“We were determined to create a culture where guys couldn’t wait to come to work. We wanted people who would be excited about getting up in the morning and being here. … We wanted a workplace where people are honest and forthright with each other. We wanted open communication to be practiced daily. We wanted every person in the building to be treated with the dignity that every human being deserves. Sure, we’re tough guys, and we like to joke and trash talk sometimes as part of our fun. But there has to be a limit to that kind of behavior, and we wanted everyone to respect each other more than anything else. A joke’s only funny if we all share in it together at no person’s expense. And when we make mistakes or do something wrong, we don’t deny it. We want a place that if we are going to eat crow, we are going to eat it while it’s hot!”

“…My condition will not determine my position. I understand the condition, but choose to focus on my position. That is to stay positive and serve….” (part of a letter to his team before the Green Bay Packers game)

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” —William Barclay

“You brought the spiritual plane. That’s why your leadership goes beyond coaching. You set an example as a spiritual leader, and that’s what inspires people.” —Kevin Elko

“Coaching is a profession of love. You can’t coach people unless you love them.” —Eddie Robinson

“People sometimes ask me what we look for in a player—how we know he’ll be a good fit for our program. It’s a hard question to answer because there are so many variables. … We also go beyond all the facts and stats and determine if these are what we like to call ‘horseshoe guys.’ The horseshoe emblem of the Colts shows seven nails or studs. Each one represents a quality we want in a player/leader for our team—smart, tough, dynamic, physical, character, integrity, and respect. … Players who want to be a part of something bigger. Something great.”

“Part of the reason I couldn’t remain disappointed after our lost to the Ravens [in the playoffs] was that I knew we had built our foundation on solid rock. We had established something that wasn’t going to dry up and blow away in a matter of weeks or months. Our team was committed to building a program for sustained success. We called it ‘building the monster.’ We wanted to take our building blocks of athleticism, talent, and skill and bring them to life with our commitment, character, and determination.”

“Cancer can take away a lot—your hair, your appetite, your energy, and, yes, sometimes your very life. But cancer cannot take away the love that passes between you and the special people in your life. It can’t take away the support and encouragement, the creativity and beauty, the connections and relationships to others who are fighting alongside you. No matter how hard it tries, cancer can never contain the human spirit or diminish the power of faith.”

The Horrors Of Crucifixion

Good FridayWilliam Barclay, in his commentary on the Gospel of John, wrote graphically about the horrors of crucifixion—

   There was no more terrible death than death by crucifixion. Even the Romans themselves regarded it with a shudder of horror. Cicero declared that it was “the most cruel and horrifying death.” Tacitus said that it was a “despicable death.” It was originally a Persian method of execution. It may have been used because, to the Persians, the earth was sacred, and they wished to avoid defiling it with the body of an evil-doer. So they nailed him to a cross and left him to die there, looking to the vultures and the carrion crows to complete the work. The Carthaginians took over crucifixion from the Persians; and the Romans learned it from the Carthaginians.

   Crucifixion was never used as a method of execution in the homeland, but only in the provinces, and there only in the case of slaves. It was unthinkable that a Roman citizen should die such a death. Cicero says: “It is a crime for a Roman citizen to be bound; it is a worse crime for him to be beaten; it is well nigh parricide for him to be killed; what am I to say if he be killed on a cross? A nefarious action such as that is incapable of description by any word, for there is none fit to describe it.” It was that death, the most dreaded in the ancient world, the death of slaves and criminals, that Jesus died.

   The routine of crucifixion was always the same. When the case had been heard and the criminal condemned, the judge uttered the fateful sentence: Ibis ad crucem, “You will go to the cross.” The verdict was carried out there and then. The condemned man was placed in the centre of a quaternion, a company of four Roman soldiers. His own cross was placed upon his shoulders. Scourging always preceded crucifixion and it is to be remembered how terrible scourging was. Often the criminal had to be lashed and goaded along the road, to keep him on his feet, as he staggered to the place of crucifixion. Before him walked an officer with a placard on which was written the crime for which he was to die and he was led through as many streets as possible on the way to execution. There was a double reason for that. There was the grim reason that as many as possible should see and take warning from his fate. But there was a merciful reason. The placard was carried before the condemned man and the long route was chosen, so that if anyone could still bear witness in his favor, he might come forward and do so. In such a case, the procession was halted and the case retried. (emphasis added)

Always remember that Jesus willingly went through this for you and me.

Surely He took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered Him punished by God,
    stricken by Him, and afflicted.
But He was pierced for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
    and by His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5, emphasis added)

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